Michelle Nunez, GIVEN ’16
“GIVEN allowed me to better understand how much women are needed in our world. I left the Forum with a strong sense of purpose; I was able to feel God’s love for me in a very strong way. God used GIVEN to really form my identity as a woman and to show me His will in my life.” – Michelle Nunez
Please share a little about yourself – feel free to include a fun fact!
I was born and raised in Houston, Texas and currently live in the Rio Grande Valley. I am the youngest of two and both my parents are from Mexico. I am bilingual. I love traveling, reading, pilates, the beach, and all that is true, good, and beautiful.
Describe your professional work/ministry. How were you led to this? What are you passionate about?
I grew up in a traditional Catholic Mexican family with very strong values such as love, kindness, honesty, perseverance, humility, sacrifice, and service. This shaped my way of thinking, feeling and acting towards others. Following the example of my parents, I have always felt a strong passion towards serving others; this led me to discern social work as my profession.
“Following the example of my parents, I have always felt a strong passion towards serving others; this led me to discern social work as my profession.”
During my senior year of undergraduate studies, I had the gift of participating in the GIVEN Forum, where I had the opportunity to meet and speak with Sr. Norma Pimentel. During her talk I felt a strong call to volunteer at the Humanitarian Respite Center. After graduating with my Bachelors of Social Work, I moved to the Rio Grande Valley to fulfill this call. My time at the Humanitarian Respite Center was a life-changing experience; it really allowed me to deepen my faith and reflect on who God was calling me to be. After seven months of volunteering, I moved to Washington, D.C. to complete my graduate studies at the Catholic University of America. It was during this time that God spoke to my heart and deepened my love for the Church and its social teaching. After completing my Masters of Social Work, God called me back to the Rio Grande Valley, where I currently live and work.
“My time at the Humanitarian Respite Center was a life-changing experience; it really allowed me to deepen my faith and reflect on who God was calling me to be.”
What are the personal strengths that you’ve been given and how do you utilize them?
God has taught me how to be a good listener and I think this has given me the opportunity to be more present to the needs of others. By nature I am also a very calm person which has opened the door for others to come and share their worries, hopes, and dreams with me. I am also very good at multitasking and thrive in challenging environments. Personally, I believe that being Mexican American is one of my greatest strengths because it paves the path for me to be a bridge between two cultures. All this has allowed me to be present and to better serve those around me.
“God has taught me how to be a good listener and I think this has given me the opportunity to be more present to the needs of others.”
What women inspire you, and why?
I have four spiritual mothers whom I love, admire, and keep very close to me; I would not be here today if it weren’t for their intercession. The first one is St. Teresa of Calcutta. Mother Teresa is commonly known as the little nun that served the poorest of the poor, but her relationship with Jesus, her thirst to love him, is what I admire the most and what inspires me to do the same. I always ask her to teach me how to quench the thirst of Jesus the way she did.
“Her relationship with Jesus, her thirst to love him, is what I admire the most.”
The second woman is St. Faustina Kowalska. All her life was a reflection of God’s mercy. She allowed herself to be used to reflect a characteristic of God that is very much needed in our world. I always ask her to pray for me so that my person may be hidden in the message that God wants to give to the world through me.
The third woman is St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the little flower. Her strength was reflected in her simplicity and in her childlike spirit. She had a very deep understanding of God, and who she was in Him, which gave her a great ambition to win souls. I ask her for that ambition to glorify God and for her childlike spirit.
“She had a very deep understanding of God, and who she was in Him, which gave her a great ambition to win souls.”
The fourth and last woman that inspires me is one that is not very well-known, Venerable Concepción Cabrera, a wife, mother, and mystic from Mexico. She shows us that a deep union with Christ can be cultivated in the midst of household duties. During one of her mystical experiences, Jesus tells her that He wishes to make her heart a cloister where he can freely live, and that it was not necessary for her to live in an actual cloister for this to happen, but to live her life always in His presence.
Prayer is essential for everyone, but especially for women who are active in the life and mission of the Church. Do you have any favorite devotions or prayers?
The Mass is the center of my life; I try to attend Mass daily as it nourishes my soul and helps keep my day centered in Christ. The Sacrament of Reconciliation keeps me grounded; it allows me to see how much I need God’s grace and mercy and it also gives me the grace to be more forgiving towards others. The rosary and Our Lady are very important to me especially in the busyness of my daily life. Praying the rosary as I drive or move from one thing to the next helps me maintain my peace.
Do you have a favorite inspirational quote?
“It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness; He is waiting for you when nothing else satisfies you; He is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is He who provokes you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is He who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is He who reads in your hearts your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle. It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be grounded down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal” – St. John Paul II
What were your key takeaways from the 2016 GIVEN Forum?
GIVEN allowed me to better understand how much women are needed in our world. I left the Forum with a strong sense of purpose; I was able to feel God’s love for me in a very strong way. God used GIVEN to really form my identity as a woman and to show me His will in my life. It also gave me the opportunity to meet so many wonderful and beautiful women who are living holy lives. This was a testament to the influence that women have in our society if we all work together.
“I left the Forum with a strong sense of purpose; I was able to feel God’s love for me in a very strong way. God used GIVEN to really form my identity as a woman and to show me His will in my life.”